It’s no secret: President Donald Trump is deeply unpopular among women voters, according to national polls that consistently show him lagging behind his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Even he knows it — at a campaign rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, the President made a plea: “Suburban women, will you please like me?”
But Trump’s latest remarks are unlikely to help him bridge this gender gap.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Thursday, Trump told the crowd that the glass ceiling “broke” Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and he suggested that the same fate awaits California Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s on the ticket with Biden.
“And they talked about the glass ceiling, right?” the President said. “The woman breaking the glass ceiling. And it didn’t work out that way. The glass ceiling broke (Clinton). But there will be a woman that breaks the glass ceiling. It just won’t be Hillary. And you know who else it won’t be? It won’t be Kamala.”
It’s unclear what Trump meant by “broke” (thwarted?). But no interpretation explains away the apparent delight he took in a woman hitting her head on a thick chunk of glass ceiling — aka systemic sexism — and in predicting that the same thing will happen to another.
Of course, the President’s behavior isn’t surprising. The first woman to secure a major party’s presidential nomination, Clinton has been a popular target of his for years. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump referred to his opponent as “Crooked Hillary,” despite his and his associates’ inglorious legal entanglements.
And during a rambling Fox Business interview last week, following the 2020 vice presidential debate between Harris and Vice President Mike Pence, Trump disparaged the senator as a “monster.”
Still, in its own way, Trump’s recent dig at Clinton and Harris is striking, arriving at a time when he’s struggling with female voters.
“The main thing keeping an anvil on Trump’s head in terms of job approval all this four years has been women. He does fine among men, but women have never given him high marks,” Scott Jennings, an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as well as a CNN contributor, told CNN’s Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica after September’s chaotic presidential debate.
Even women who voted for Trump in 2016 can no longer look away from his sexist (among other things) behavior.
“I literally ignored it, just like every other woman who voted for him. We ignored it. I just kept saying it’s locker room talk,” Nin Bell, 47, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan in a story about the Pennsylvania women who’ve defected from Trump.
Importantly, the women — the “suburban housewives” — the President is attempting to keep in his corner are White women, a plurality of whom voted for him in 2016. By way of comparison, only 4% of Black women voted for Trump in 2016, according to CNN exit polls.